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What's in the name

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October 20, 2006



My first (obvious) thought is that the Thugs are the mysterious people who might be doing the bad things in the building. My second thought is that the characters in the show are the Thugs. A playwright friend came up with the best idea - we, the audience, are the Thugs - making whatever judgements we've made throughout the play and especially at the end.

Or it might be absolutely no one and just coy misdirection.

But I second your recommendation. It's a great show.

Chris Boyd

Re the Jan Fabre piece... Talk about taking coleslaw to KFC! Or NYC, rather. It's not all *that* long ago since we had Karen Finley rolling around in honey, is it? (I remember trying to have a suitable photograph run in the local Murdoch tabloid!) (LOL)

David Cote

As a matter of fact I talked to Karen Finley about participating in the conversation with Jan after his show, but she was wary about commenting on another arist's work, especially work to which she suspected she'd have deep ideological objections, such as this performance/installation. The show went very well. A visually engrossing, symbolically packed piece of gender glossing. Jan was as eloquent and gentlemanly as a heavily subsidized art-star from Europe would be: patiently unpacking his metaphors and explaining his interest in the body, bodily fluids, etc. On the bus ride back to NYC, much lively discussion about whether or not the piece was sexist. Jan casually mentioned that the piece is an homage to matriarchy (is that construction a gender contradiction?), which raised a red flag with one viewer. Anyway, in January, also at Montclair, keep your eyes open for Je Suis Sang (I Am Blood), which is bloody, metallic, large-scale epic frightfest with more nudity and bodies in tortured, bloody, ecstatic, terrifying con/transfigurations

Chris Boyd

You can expect a reprise of the "is this sexist?" debate -- possibly a far more heated one -- following Je Suis Sang. Instead of olive oil, think menstrual blood. (It's not what one would call a nice night's entertainment.)

Jeffrey Jones

Ah, Jan Fabre. The great Belgian epigone of Phineas T. Barnum. I met him on his first pass through the States when I was managing the Performing Garage and he was hawking something he called "BIC Art." Let's just say it didn't make much of an impression, despite Jan's persistence. So I was both surprised and not surprised when within a few years he rode the Belgo-boom to the top. But the oil gag is a direct rip off, er, homage to the sublime, naughty French Canadian dancer/choreographer Marie Choinard (more or less Jan's contemporary, and someone he surely would have encountered on the touring circuit). I believe there is still an oil slick on the upstairs floor of the Garage from Marie's run there on my watch. I'm telling you, she did a horizontal cooch dance made a fella go weak in the knees.

David Cote

I'm still processing the whole Jan Fabre Experience. He and his retinue of slim, rumple-haired male assistants came bearing boxes of a veeery slick, glossy book titled "Corpus Jan Fabre." A compact tome of critical essays, interviews, production diaries and lots of pages of gorgeous photos of his work. Impressed me. And how sad that such a book will probably never be published in America about an American theater artist. I mean, Foreman has his play collections and of course, there's the neat anthology New Downtown Now... but at any rate, the Fabre book was a concrete example of what's so depressingly wrong with American arts funding and consumption. Of course, it may be that Fabre is, as you suggest, a snake-oil salesman of empty, derivative aesthetic stunts. There's a contingent here at TONY that thinks he may be a fraud. But in art, what the fuck is fraud, anyway? Who's going to fund the frauds, that's what I wanna know. Besides the Belgians.

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